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Exclusive: Ola eyes Kolkata’s bike taxi market, in talks with local players

20 July, 2017

ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd, which runs cab-hailing app Ola, is attempting to launch its bike taxi service, Ola Bike, in Kolkata. It has already initiated talks with local bike taxi players such as OneManTaxi and K Bike for strategic partnerships or buyouts, four people familiar with the matter told VCCircle.

Ola intends to launch the service by using the bike population of local players as an aggregated fleet, working under their app platform and brand, a senior industry executive said on the condition of anonymity.

“Ola is very keen to get into the bike taxi market in Kolkata. They offered to make us an aggregator under Ola and run our bikes for Ola Bike,” Raghav Randar, founder of OneManTaxi, told VCCircle in an email.

Ola did not respond to email queries sent by VCCircle seeking confirmation.

One of the persons mentioned above said that Ola had approached the authorities in Kolkata for a licence to operate bike taxis, but was denied permission and that is why it is trying to tie up with local players. The two licensed players are K Bike and OneManTaxi in Kolkata while city-based Tygr is also doing a pilot.

Tygr recently entered the Mumbai market to compete with Ola and Uber. It plans to launch its app in Bangalore within two weeks.

A source said that Ola’s talks with K Bike fell through because the latter’s management did not want to partner with the Bhavish Aggarwal-founded firm since it does not have proper licences to run bike taxis in the city.

Last August, VCCircle had reported that Ola had approached bike taxi operators Noida-based NOW and Bangalore-headquartered Rapido, among others, for a buyout but the discussions have not yielded any results so far.

It has not been a steady ride for bike taxi firms in India so far.

In March last year, both Ola and its US-based rival Uber had launched bike taxis in Bangalore but had to halt operations days after the launch due to regulatory problems. The state government cracked down on the two companies on the grounds that, as per the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 enforced in Karnataka, a two-wheeler is considered to be private transport and that bike taxis need to be licensed for commercial use.

In September last year, VCCircle had reported that Uber’s bike taxi UberMoto had gone cold in Ahmedabad, but the firm relaunched the service in the city in May this year.

But there has been some good news for focused bike taxi players like Rapido and Baxi. The two firms last month were reportedly close to securing funds. While Rapido was in the process of raising $3 million, Baxi is raising an undisclosed amount.

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Exclusive: Ola eyes Kolkata’s bike taxi market, in talks with local players

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